Creston Community Elementary School Art Instructor Shari Walters discovered the Kindness Rocks project over the summer when a group of people started spreading the rocks throughout Creston.
Walters saw the Facebook page for the rocks and liked the idea, deciding to paint a few herself and hide around town.
Then, it dawned on her that it would be a perfect project for her elementary art students.
“This was a project she talked to me about before we had kids in the building,” Creston Community Elementary School Principal Scott Driskell said. “Immediately, I knew it was a great idea.”
Creston Community School District already had river rock available, and Walters was allowed to go collect rocks from that rock pile.
Walters started the project with her students the first week of school, with her students studying Megan Murphy, the person who is believed to have originally started the Kindness Rocks project on the east coast.
The art students painted the rocks the first week of class and, during the second week of class, picked out words to write on the rocks. The students have been taking mini field trips this week to spread the rocks throughout the town.
“I think it’s great for kids to give kindness away and not necessarily to people they know,” Walters said. “The little ones, especially, it’s hard for them to give it away and not take it home to mom or not have their mom and dad come find it. I said, ‘This is for a stranger, someone you don’t know that maybe is having a hard day.’ We’re just trying to spread as much happiness and kindness around this city as we can.”
Words written on the students’ rocks include “love,” “peace,” “you’re amazing” and “believe,” among many other inspirational or kind words and phrases.
Walters has about 420 students in her first- through fourth-grade art classes. Rocks have been spread throughout the city, including at Greater Regional Medical Center, Southwestern Community College and the city’s parks.
“It’s just exciting to see the faces of our elementary kids, even the kids we just walked to the football field, you’d have thought they left the county. They were excited to do something different and now they want to see who found the rock,” Driskell said.
“The excitement it has brought the kids has been incredible,” Driskell said. “All the credit to Mrs. Walters. She’s had some great ideas over the years and they’ve included the community. That’s important for people to see a little bit more about who we are as a school.”
Driskell noted one student he talked to Thursday couldn’t wait to get home after school to go see if his rock had been found.
Walters said she hopes her students learn a valuable lesson from participating in the project, in addition to having fun.
“I just want them to learn a little bit of compassion for people worldwide, nationwide or people in their town, not just showing love for people in their family and people they know,” Walters said. “Everybody needs a little bit of love. I want them to learn about that.”
Walters encourages any community members who find the rocks to post a picture of the rock on Twitter and tag it with #crestonelementarykindnessrockproject so Walters can show her art students who has found rocks.